Descending down the dark slippery steps of Blondie on a Sunday afternoon, we discovered chamber after underground chamber of gyrating teens--teens with super-straight styled hair, uniform side partings, piercings, sneakers, leggings, ripped t-shirts--all dancing or just making out.
(itemId=7153 Nico at Glamorous Kids, Photo by Kyle Weaver)
We were there to see the female pop acts of santiaguinas Mariel (Mariel Villagra), Nico (Nicole Natalino) and May (Consuelo Schuster). The event, aptly named "Glamorous Kids" (they can smoke, but no booze is served), the club's way to make money on cover at a time when it would otherwise be empty. Today the teens were particularly enthused, with their idols about to perform.
(itemId=7149 May at Glamorous Kids, Photo by Kyle Weaver)
As we weaved through sweaty adolescents to the front of the stage, May was on. Petite and blonde like Kylie Minogue, and with her striped wedged pumps and cute polka dot headband, she looked like a genuine pop princess.
She launched into her single "Guille," a fast-paced pop song with guitars, drums and lyrics she practically spits out. The teenagers bobbed up and down, throwing bracelets onto the stage, taking photos and videos on their phones or passionately singing along. Few smiled, for the emphasis was on looking edgy.
Petite, bubbly and the "Rock Chick" of the three, Mariel came onstage in fishnet tights, a denim skirt and black high-top sneakers. In proper grunge style, her jet-black hair was cut longer on one side of her face than the other, and her bangs were thick and short above dark eyes. Her electro-rock single "No Me Despierten" (Don't wake me up) from her album of the same name went down well with the teens, who continued to bob with approval.
(itemId=7156 Nico at Glamorous Kids, Photo by Kyle Weaver)
Of the three acts, Nico is the most famous in Chile. This was quite clear as the teen crowd went mad, their enraptured faces gazing at the super-casual icon. Largely unsmiling, she coolly waved her body to catchy songs. With long, loose blond hair and leggings, silver sandals, a knee-length skirt and stripy top, she could have been out for a day of shopping downtown--an unfazed approach that clearly appealed to her young audience.
Nico's producer set out to make the bass line of her songs sound like popular California-based alternative rock band 30 Seconds To Mars, which is apparent in her ballad "No Hay Más" (There's no more) and her second single "Seré" (I will be). Another of her songs sounded nearly identical to Hedley's "Gunnin' For You." The youthful audience sung along hard, yet Nico only mimed into her microphone while May's voice soared clear and strong over her backing track.
Do the girls feel pressure from being up and coming Chilean stars? In one word: yes. "People expect a lot from me, I often feel pressure," May says.
Mariel agreed, explaining, "It is difficult being an independent artist, working mainly alone."
(itemId=7159 Mariel at Glamorous Kids, Photo by Kyle Weaver)
Nico is less alone; her abrasive Chilean manager known to many as "The Old Lady" oversaw her every move, making it difficult to chat with her backstage and the singer seemed slightly shy. May, on the other hand, is cheerful, outgoing and very direct, as demonstrated when she first met her producer Jaime Ciero at a party. He heard her singing and said, "I'm going to make you famous." She retorted simply with a ballsy, "How?"
Shy or not, it was clear that all the singers were thrilled to perform for the funky, hilarious teens. They "idolize Madonna and pop music," said Mariel.
More importantly, May said, "They dance!"
Most kids love a pop-rock icon, but there was real passion in the dark club that afternoon. May summed it up: "I am not like Avril Lavigne. I am a blond Latino, I am Latina. It is a flavor."
Stay tuned for upcoming concert dates to get a taste of that Latin pop flavor.